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ARM Sues Qualcomm Over Nuvia’s Licensing Agreement: Here's What Happened
It all started when Qualcomm acquired Nuvia in a bid to expand into PC processors and servers, which would also expand ARM's market share. However, ARM is suing Qualcomm over the USD 1.4 billion acquisition of Nuvia. ARM has filed a lawsuit as the acquisition of Nuvia caused a breach of ARM's licenses.
What Is Nuvia And Why Is It Important?
Before we dive into the ARM Vs Qualcomm lawsuit, let's take a look at Nuvia. Nuvia rose to fame due to the fact that it was founded by lead engineers from Apple's processor division. Gerard Williams III, Nuvia's CEO and currently the SP of Qualcomm Engineering, was previously Apple's CPU engineer who also worked on the M1 chipset.
One should also note that Nuvia is a subsidiary of ARM. Qualcomm acquired Nuvia in 2021, which gave the popular mobile processor brand access to Apple's playbook and talent. The acquisition was also a doorway to scaling ARM's designs for more powerful devices.
Why Is ARM Sueing Qualcomm?
A Reuters report explains the details of the new lawsuit filed by ARM against Qualcomm. ARM says the acquisition "caused Nuvia to breach its ARM licenses, leading ARM to terminate those licenses, in turn requiring Qualcomm and Nuvia to stop using and destroy any ARM-based technology developed under the licenses," the case PDF reads.
"Undeterred, Qualcomm and Nuvia have continued working on Nuvia's implementation of ARM architecture in violation of ARM's rights as the creator and licensor of its technology," it further explains. The lawsuit says both Nuvia and Qualcomm held an "Architecture License Agreement (ALA)," which is the higher tier of ARM licensing.
One should also note that ARM doesn't manufacture chips itself, but the company is modeled around licensing its IP to manufacturers. Many ARM-made SoC designs use the Cortex branding, which allows OEMs to design their ARM chip from scratch. The same ALA license is what Apple holds to make its custom ARM-based processors.
But now, ARM is concerned about the scope and transference of the ALA license with Nuvia. "The licenses safeguarded ARM's rights and expectations by prohibiting assignment without Arm's consent, regardless of whether a contemplated assignee had its own ARM licenses," the lawsuit states.
Qualcomm Responds To ARM Lawsuit
Nuvia has primarily been a company making server CPUs. The Qualcomm acquisition aims to expand Nuvia into SoCs to build laptops, smartphones, cars, AR/VR headsets, and more. ARM further states that it had informed Qualcomm in writing that Nuvia's ALA license and in-process designs can't be used with ARM's consent.
The negotiation between Qualcomm and ARM has been going around for about a year. It looks like the companies couldn't agree, requiring a legal battle now. Qualcomm stated to The Verge stating the case would be in their favor.
"ARM has no right, contractual or otherwise, to attempt to interfere with Qualcomm's or NUVIA's innovations. ARM's complaint ignores the fact that Qualcomm has broad, well-established license rights covering its custom-designed CPUs, and we are confident those rights will be affirmed," the report stated. We'll know more about the legal proceedings in the coming days.